Meat processing plant, union share labor-management award


    LOUISVILLE, Ky.— JBS, a meat processing plant on Story Avenue, and the union representing its employees, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 227, have won the 17th annual Labor-Management Award from the University of Louisville Labor-Management Center.

    The award, which honors an area workplace in which management and labor have demonstrated cooperative relations, was presented tonight at The Olmstead.

    JBS has one of the best safety records in the nation, said its nominators. Managers and employees there team up to conduct safety walks and compliance audits and offer ergonomic training to workers. They also work together to retain employees, which has reduced the plant’s annual turnover rate from more than 100 percent in 2002 to about 9 percent in 2009.

    A multicultural committee at the plant works to improve understanding among employees, who are black, white, Hispanic and Asian and speak more than 16 different languages.

    Other labor-management actions contributing to the company’s success include:

    • Workers have the opportunity to learn any language they choose at a deeply-discounted price
    • Roundtable discussions encourage workers to voice ideas for improving the plant and its policies and procedures
    • Employees enjoy perks such as on-site banking, an annual health fair and a Management vs. Production softball tournament

    JBS, which supplies pork products to Kroger, Meijer, Costco, Burger King and other food retailers, is headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Formerly known as Swift & Co., the company employs more than 125,000 people worldwide. About 1,350 people work at its Story Avenue plant.

    UFCW Local 227 represents more than 20,000 workers in Kentucky and Southern Indiana and has a national membership of more than 1.4 million. Its members work in groceries, food processing plants, nursing homes, garment factories and automotive parts plants.